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Historic McCalla School undergoing transformation

The historic McCalla school. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University The historic McCalla school was acquired by IU in 1974. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana UniversityThe McCalla School is nearing the end of an extensive renovation and repurposing to become the new home of University Collections, a place where all of IU’s extensive and often widely dispersed collections will be properly preserved, housed and made accessible to all.

The red brick building at Indiana Avenue and 10th Street spent its first 66 years as an elementary school. Retired by the city in 1973, the McCalla School was acquired by IU a year later.

The building capably served the IU School of Art + Design for years, most recently as production spaces for IU students and faculty, including a wood and metal shop. It was also home to the school’s rotating exhibits of the Fuller Projects, an exhibition venue where contemporary emerging artists could propose, create and present new work.

McCalla’s latest incarnation builds on both of its past lives, with a remodeled learning lab, gallery spaces and a renovated multipurpose room.

An exhibit in collaboration with the Kinsey Institute will be up through 2022. Bettina Rhei... Hosted by the McCalla School in collaboration with the Kinsey Institute "Bettina Rheims: Everything All at Once" is a photography exhibition of transgender portraits taken between 1989 and 1991. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University“IU is lucky to be the home of more than 250 collections, but many of these collections do not have their own teaching or exhibition spaces,” said Brian Woodman, associate director of University Collections. “We are pleased that McCalla will be able to fulfill this role, allowing University Collections to have teaching labs, galleries and event space to bring their collections to students, faculty and the public.”

University Collections moved into the facility in October. Finished spaces currently include eight galleries, an events space and a collections’ lab that can be used both for teaching and as a place to prep pieces for exhibition.

“McCalla will be a place that the collections on all of IU’s campuses can use as well as a space to combine collections to create exhibitions,” said Erica Kendall, a museum services generalist with University Collections. “Essentially, we are here to enhance the mission of IU to better highlight collections that can further research initiatives.”

Megajeff, a replica of a giant ground sloth shown here on display at Presidents Hall in 2020, is ... Megajeff, a replica of a giant ground sloth shown here on display at Presidents Hall in 2020, is now on exhibit at the McCalla School. Photo by Chaz Mottinger, Indiana UniversityMcCalla is currently showcasing two pop-up exhibits: one on the Stotter collection, which is part of the paleontology collection and features shells, and a room dedicated to Megajeff, a 3D-printed giant ground sloth created by the Indiana Geological and Water Survey. Megajeff is a replica of a nearly complete ground sloth skeleton that was donated to IU in 1870, but was later thrown out in the 1940s by individuals who did not understand its value. With only five bones left to draw from, the skeleton was re-created using modern technology.

McCalla also has collaborated with the Kinsey Institute on “Bettina Rheims: Everything All at Once,” a photography exhibition of transgender portraits taken by Rheims from 1989 to 1991. This exhibit will be open through the end of 2022.

Upcoming exhibits will feature Herman B Wells, music and entertainment, printmaking and technology, and innovation.

Although the renovation is still being completed, the McCalla galleries will have open hours from noon to 7 p.m. Thursdays beginning May 26 and by appointment. Additional hours will be added in the fall semester. For more exhibit information, visit @IUCollects on Twitter.

Amanda Chambliss is assistant director of research communications with the Office of the Vice President for Research.